Zambia Week One

June 21, 2016

Today was our first day at our volunteer placements. I was assigned to Maher Christian Academy which has baby classes up to grade 7. The school is about a 45 minute walk from the volunteer house and I walk with another volunteer, Storm, who is also working at that school with me. My first day was a little bit crazy, we arrived and were shown around the school which only took about five minutes since it isn’t very large and once the tour was over we chose our class and began. The teacher handed me a lesson plan and left me completely in charge of my twenty students.

The kids are absolutely amazing. From the moment Storm and I walked up to the school the kids rushed to the window to greet us. All they want to do is touch you. At one point I counted twelve kids hugging me at once. When I would bend over to check their work they would pet my hair, they did this at every opportunity they had.

After school, some of the volunteers went into town for dinner before heading to Victoria Falls for the first time on our trip. We decided to go at night because it was a full moon and when there’s a full moon a rainbow appears over the Falls despite it being almost pitch black outside.

June 22, 2016

Today was my second day at my placement. I was a little nervous going into it, knowing that I would be teaching for the full time instead of half like I did the morning before. Storm and I left the volunteer house at 7am (which was about 15 minutes behind schedule) and got to the school at 7:40 which was around ten minutes before the kids arrived for class. The first lesson of the day is what they call “Devotion” which is when the kids learn a passage from the bible and sing church songs with their usual teachers. After that I started my first lesson of the day which was math. We did some word problems about receiving change when buying groceries. After math we had a snack break where we got to play with the kids and relax for about 30 minutes before class began again. After break I taught social studies and then English. Once English was over is was time for lunch which is also the time around which Storm and I are supposed to leave to eat lunch back at the volunteer house. We ended up getting so distracted with lunch time with the kids that we were there an extra hour.

We took the kids on a walk around the area and then I taught them how to do the line dance to Footloose which they absolutely loved! By the time we left school, all of my nerves about teaching were gone.

June 24, 2016

Yesterday I brought in some of the pencils and erasers that were donated to me for the kids at my school by my awesome cousin, Diane. Before, the kids had only one eraser that they shared with each other and their pencils were broken and extremely short. The pencils I gave them had erasers on them so when I gave them those pencils along with new erasers they were through the roof because that meant they got two erasers. It blows my mind how grateful these kids are, especially coming from a country where most young children hate going to school. All these kids want to do is go to school and learn but they are hindered by something as simple as the proper writing tools. They even sharpen their pencils with a razor blade instead of an actual pencil sharpener which prompted me to make an immediate trip to the store to get them a couple pencil sharpeners as well.

During lunch break some of the kids from my class as well as the older classes sat down with me and tried teaching me some words in Nyanja which is one of the native languages in Zambia. Let’s just says they laughed at my attempts to repeat after them. They are also very curious about life in America. Several kids have asked me if I have a car, which is clearly a sign of wealth to them, and they ask all about my family and friends. They also want to know what kind of food we eat in America, a question that made me realize that Americans basically just eat a mix of other country’s food and don’t really have our own i.e: burritos, pizza and pasta were my answers to their questions about my favorite foods. They were also very curious about how many rooms my house has which I think may have disappointed them since I live in a two-bedroom condo and they were definitely thinking that I lived in a mansion. It was explained to us that, to the kids here, America and other places that volunteers usually come from is a place where there is no suffering and everyone has money and is happy. I even had a student tell me that he wanted to come to America with me, he politely said, “Oh okay, never mind that’s too expensive.” with and big smile on his face when I told him how expensive it was for me to come here.

Today was a half day at school since it was Friday so we had a shorter day than usual. Friday’s are “Sports Day” at our school so we have about two hours of lessons and the rest of the day is spent outside playing games. Before we started playing outside, the whole class took a short walk to the home of one of our students who has been at home sick to wish him well. When we got back to school we played dancing games and soccer with all of the kids from the baby class to grade 7. We also took some pictures and played around with some Snapchat filters because I promised them yesterday that we could since they had seen pictures in my phone that I had saved from Snapchat. They thought it was hilarious!

They LOVE pictures, whether it’s taking them or looking at them. They love seeing pictures of my family and friends, shout out to Emma because my kids and some of their other teachers think you’re very pretty. They ask to see pictures every day and they love to pose for pictures as well. I had one student ask me if during break time we could go outside and take pictures and when I said that we could he immediately started planning his poses with his friends.

I can’t believe that my first week here is already wrapping up! I’m already so in love with these kids! We have the next two days off from school so some of us are heading to Botswana in the morning to do an overnight safari for the weekend!

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